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Green meetings by the numbers: Measuring environmental impacts keeps goal-setters on track

Sunday, November 18, 2012   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Amanda Ulbrich
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GMIC November webinar recap:

The Magic of Measurement!

It’s a norm for meetings industry professionals to set goals to decrease their environmental footprint. But goals aren’t useful without data to track their progress, said Hugo Kimber, speaking at the Green Meeting Industry Council’s November 13 webinar.

"Aspiration without application does not enable achievement,” said Kimber, a veteran green industries strategist who was involved with the UK travel industry’s first sustainability initiative in 1988.

He shared his thoughts on the importance of measurement and data collection for the green meetings industry, noting that measuring the environmental impact of events serves two key purposes: the first is to save on energy costs; the second, more subtle purpose is for meetings industry stakeholders to stay relevant in a changing sector.

"Seventy-nine percent of major companies intend to deselect suppliers that don’t meet their sustainability targets,” Kimber said. "It’s a shift from ‘nice-to-have’ to ‘need to have.’ This all hinges on data collection.”

Data collection begins with identifying data sources, like energy, water, and carbon emissions. Kimber advised participants to begin with measuring the data that’s easiest to obtain.

"Identify what your own key performance indicators (KPIs) are,” he said. "Measure relative to KPIs, not gross impacts.” He emphasized the importance of keeping goals manageable. "Reduction targets should be realistic and informed by data, not aspiration.”

Lindsay Arell, founder of Arell Logic in Denver, Colorado, echoed many of Kimber’s sentiments as she described how she measured the results of the sustainability program she established at the Colorado Convention Center.

"When we started our recycling program in 2007, we needed to know after one year of recycling that we had a 13% diversion rate,” she said. "So for 2008, we had to set a goal of how much we wanted to divert.” She emphasized the need for tangible, quantifiable results.

Tracking the metrics of sustainability initiatives, rather than guessing at what might be a success, is a practical approach to developing a new sustainability program, Arell added.

The once novel task of measuring the environmental impact of sustainability initiatives has now become a regular feature in Arell’s professional routine. "This is just something I do every month when I get the bills,” she said. "We keep on these numbers on a monthly basis. It’s one way we are able to identify if any practice is working.”

To watch the whole webinar as well as download worksheets helpful in measurement visit the link here